CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Alden Roth has a different way of looking at the world, and he’s planning to use part of the summer to create a documentary to share that vision with others.
That’s because Roth, a Washington High graduate, will soon begin a cross-country trip with two friends — fellow sophomores Dan Helbling and Mike Cooknick — who also attend Point Park University in Pittsburgh and are majoring in cinema production.
The trio’s goal is to film their trip — which is slated to include various national parks, regional sites and local people — to California and back. Overall, they plan to cover 22 states and already have 43 destinations in mind during the roughly 30-day adventure, he said.
As a group, the three friends left Pittsburgh on Sunday and plan to return there by July 24, Roth said.
Part of the purpose is to show others that it is still possible to get out and enjoy nature, as well as other people and places, without being tied to technology, he said.
“This is not your average road trip. We will be leaving modern amenities behind and bringing only one backpack per person. We will be camping in the wilderness in order to experience nature at its fullest,” Roth said.
“Our goal is to inspire our peers and our generation to do the same. We see the images and hear the stories of our elders traveling west on journeys of discovery, but we feel this is now a forgotten art,” he said.
Thanks to this philosophy, Roth and his friends will only be taking some bare necessities — items needed to make shooting a documentary possible — along on the trip.
“We want to show others that the world is still brimming with excitement and possibilities that can only be found unplugged and offline,” Roth said.
“So that our journey may be an inspiration to others, we are bringing our cameras and cinema skills along for the ride, shooting a feature-length documentary of this experience,” he said.
Months of planning have already gone into this trip, including having raised approximately $7,100 to be used to help offset costs associated with camping and camera equipment, Roth said.
Fundraising has been a positive experience since people donated online after learning about the trip and wanted to help support this effort, he said.
No stranger to road trips, last summer Roth and two other friends spent 11 days on a “mountaineering” adventure which allowed them to access the highest peaks — whether in a car or on foot — in each state visited.
After leaving Pittsburgh, the trio will head to Fairmont before going west to Chicago. They will also visit 11 national parks including Yellowstone, Badlands and Death Valley, Roth said. In the West, they will spend a day at Big Sur as well as see the redwoods and visit San Francisco before heading home on a southern route, Roth said.
“I love to travel and meet new people as well as be outside — hiking and rock climbing. Plus I’ve always wanted to try surfing and now I’ll have a day at Big Sur to do just that,” he said.
Roth said the ultimate goal of producing a documentary will take time, but he hopes it will be completed by early 2014.
“I know a lot of kids my age are very interested in the trip and tell me, ‘I wish I could do something like that.’ And that’s the point of the film — letting people know that they can.
“Our film is intended to raise awareness about the pure and simple joys of the outdoors, and how easy it is to get to them,” he said.
Additional information is available online at www.kickstarter.com/projects/974546706/the-whole-dam-nation-a-diy-road-trip.